Often times, the community may hear the idea that “children learn through play.” While is this is absolutely true, play is also work. When we are engaged in exploration and imagination – this is the basic foundation for scientific methods. Consider how a scientist who is looking to discover the properties of a chemical mixture or the effects during an experiment. The same way that our children test boundaries, inquire about materials, and observe what we are doing is the same as a scientist in their lab. Therefore, children can often be found putting things in their mouths, climbing, venturing off, and pouring things out as well as watching what happens. Identifying patterns using their senses, both a mathematical and scientific skill, is also a habit of children.
A parent can support their child’s exploration and imagination by providing a space where it is safe to do these life experiments. The outdoors (a nearby park, your back yard or the route you may take on a walk) can be helpful tool. A parent looking to ensure this safe exploration would find the easiest thing to do would be to get involved. If you are exploring alongside your child, obstacles or hazards will be in your view. If you are engaged with your child as they imagine and create, your logic and experience can guide you towards potential risks, and you can quickly assess the situation for the sake of your child. Some risk is okay; however, our job as adults is to ensure no large-scale harm comes to the children. Our job as adults is also to promote the development of skills and positive self-esteem.